E-FILES: Travel site streamlines booking

Gullivers Pacific, which focuses solely on business-to-business - aimed at other travel operators - recently relaunched its Web site.

www.gullivers.co.nz

Gullivers Pacific, which focuses solely on business-to-business - aimed at other travel operators - recently relaunched its Web site.

"The main reason we went online was to automate a lot of booking processes that were tying us up unnecessarily," says Gullivers' general manager of technology, Kathy O'Connor.

"We had a huge manual with all our private airfares on it. It involved about a million pieces of paper and 'ginormous' photocopying machines. Staff would come in each night to update it and kill another forest."

So the net impact of the Web site has been an enormous streamlining effect, with resulting cost efficiencies.

Corporate clients, who have their own travel policies, preferred suppliers and individual company rates, can get that information over the Web."The fact is that people expect faster service these days. No one goes into a supermarket these days that doesn't have barcoding and people expect the same sort of efficiency when they come into a travel operation."

The company is now investigating turning its site into an applications service provider, using it to host a thin-client environment for travel agents and providing front-end, middle and back-office systems.

Gullivers developed its own software, Serko, in-house, for Web use.

Although Gullivers initially went online as an efficiency measure, the company soon realised that if it didn't change and orientate itself more towards the Internet, it would not be able to compete in the industry, says O'Connor.

"It sounds melodramatic but it's true. We never wanted to be like the people who used to cut blocks of ice from rivers in Winter and thought people would always need ice - then along came refrigeration. We could have ended up like that."

Serko has been developed further and was recently launched in the Australian market, as an interactive Web tool for the travel industry, called Access Interactive.

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